Spotlight Verlag and HELTA both 40 years old:

1981 – that was the year that was!

This review was written by HELTA member Tom Martini. Thank you, Tom! If you would like to contribute something to our blog, just shoot us an email!

When archconservative old white male Ronald Reagan at age 70 nominated the first ever woman as a US Supreme Court judge and she was confirmed with all 97 male and all 2 female senators voting yea, and a clear Republican majority in the Senate to boot. 

When songs by David Bowie provided the whole soundtrack for the original Christiane F film. The real Christiane had taken her first ever heroin just a few years earlier after a Bowie concert in Berlin, at age 12.

When yours truly and his female manager from work Christine, both qualified auditors with PricewaterhouseCoopers in Manchester, doffed their business outfits and travelled to London to join the 250.000 crowd at the largest ever CND rally, held in Hyde Park, to try and stop cruise and Pershing missiles from being deployed in Europe (we failed).

Ach ja, and Bayern Munich won the Bundesliga (yawn), and Lady Di wore that dress and that and that and then that never ending wedding dress veil and train. 

Sonst ist damals nichts passiert?

Doch, doch! 

Unaware of each other’s intentions at the time those standard bearers of Anglo and American culture and education, HELTA and Spotlight Verlag, were incorporated in 1981. Their ways have crossed many times since, most recently, and entirely appropriately (what with everyone involved 40 years older now), in comfy armchair WFH format on 20 March 2021 when Business Spotlight editor Ian McMaster presented his thoughts on journalism meeting teaching. Coincidence has it that the current Business Spotlight edition presents magazine publishing language on a double page spread.

Business Spotlight is also a big boy (male/female/divers) now: 7.300 days since its first issue. And over the years the hardcopy got siblings: a website, workbook, audio CD, audio download, monthly newsletter to teachers. If you or your students subscribe to a Jahresabo you will currently profit from a 20% discount (get it? apropos 7.300 days….), but if you are a HELTA member you will get 40% off (because…. – okay, go back one paragraph) by way of a Thalia Gutschein. Individual copies are now EUR 7.90. Spotlight Verlag still publishes out of Munich but has been owned by Die Zeit in Hamburg for some time. To be closer still to the UK? And are Écoute, Ecos, Adesso, Deutsch Perfekt still around? You bet they are. Contrary to the UK where decades of widespread abandonment of learning modern foreign languages in schools and universities will surely have contributed to the Brexit yes vote (the devil you don’t know will forever stay a devil), the linguistic aspirations of German citizens continue unchecked. But might a Chinese Spotlight for the German market be overdue? 

Ian, who is younger than me, almost gave his age away when he mentioned Klett’s Grund- und Aufbauwortschatz of yesteryear which used to dictate the vocabulary that needed explaining in either Spotlight magazine (namely those beyond the Grundwortschatz). I thought yes, and Vokabelboxes were also quite useful (and, like the Klett publication are also still around for those who want to touch and smell words. Incidentally, how do we, on our screens, as teachers identify the many kinesthetic learners?). Or use any of the online corpora to identify frequent – hence necessary – words for your purpose. That some more recent TEFL philosophy originating in the UK suggests that actual teaching and that drill and repetition can be dispensed with in languages learning strikes me as an unfortunate but perhaps inevitable result of not seriously exposing pupils and students to foreign languages in the UK any longer. No pupils, no students, no teachers. 

Two questions from the audience last Saturday:

Copyright? – normal rules apply as for all other publications and should therefore be respected. Those articles, exercises, lesson plans and worksheets which Spotlight Verlag provides via the newsletter can be distributed and used with students.

Taboo subjects? – in the German speaking countries which are the markets for Spotlight publications there are fewer taboo topics than in other countries and cultures and therefore Spotlight Verlag has fewer restrictions than many international publishers. 

Now that last promise will keep me picking up my Business Spotlight jab at Blankenese S-Bahn station also in the future. 

Tom Martini, Hamburg

24 March 2021

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